This is a very important Tabecat rule and one that covers three areas: online profiles, day-to-day updates & privacy settings.
Most social media websites invite you to add information about yourself, in the form of a profile or biography, when you sign up to them. It is very tempting to tell your life history in these sections, but in e-safety lessons we stress that you don’t have to put anything in at all and if you do it should be general rather than personal. For example, saying you play for Halstead Town U11s gives people a specific time and place of your location – it’s too personal. Saying you play for a local football team still tells people you like the game but is more general and makes it harder for anyone to identify you. We have practised writing online profiles at school and then critiqued them to see if they were safe: we agreed that names, ages, addresses, dates of birth etc. were not good whilst hobbies, pets and favourite bands/food etc. were fine.
If you’re not happy having something on the side of a bus driving around town don’t put it on a social media. Less is always more because once it’s out there it’s very difficult to get it back.
You can have the best profile in the world, but if your day-to-day comments and photos gradually give away personal information about yourself you are still putting yourself in danger. Make sure that you don’t put online exact details of where you are and what you are going to be doing, and make sure your privacy settings are secure…
Privacy settings are very tricky. Social networks don’t want you to be private, they want to create links so they can monetise your content. Make sure that online accounts are not in the public eye – a private account with only close friends and family able to see your details is always best.
In school we keep a close eye on the children’s profiles and all social media is blocked by our filters. It’s important that out of school children know how to keep their profiles private. We can help with general advice at school but they will probably need help from parents to make sure they’re safe on mobile devices.
Mention should also be made of mobile phone numbers and e-mail addresses – if given out to the wrong people they can be misused and often form the basis on cyberbullying, especially as increasing numbers of social networks use these forms of ID to link with other websites and apps.